The flat was quiet.
John didn’t really recall how he got there, standing in the doorway to 221B, staring but not really seeing. The police were gone now, though the mess they left behind still remained. Looking for evidence. Looking for the truth they wanted to find. They never would. That truth didn’t exist. Only the real one did.
With a breath that might have been shuddered, John slowly stepped into the room. His eyes moved—slugging, worn out—to his chair, black leather and sleek, just like him. The violin rested nearby. An old cup of tea surprisingly not disturbed in the whirlwind of the Met’s clumsy paws as they rifled through their things.
The flat was quiet. He supposed the Mrs Hudson was downstairs somewhere, sobbing with the news, but it wouldn’t change anything. It would never change anything.
John’s hand flexed at his side, an old phantom pain flaring in his leg before he pushed it aside. He couldn’t do him the dishonour of that. Instead, John moved forward, moving sedately through the flat and picking up the debris of the past forty-eight hours, thinking with an almost sardonic twitch of his brow that that had been how long to change his life the first time with him as well.
He moved like a ghost through his own flat, picking up pictures and papers, putting things back where they belonged, before finally moving to clean up the cups of unfinished tea he always left around, knowing John or Mrs Hudson would take care of them later. They always did. He was theirs to care for. To watch over. To protect.
John didn’t do a very good job of it, he thought with an odd twist in his gut and the feeling like his lungs had frozen over. He dismissed the thought, however. He hadn’t the time to indulge in thoughts. He had to pick up the flat.
A glance at the skull. Billy, he’d called it, much to John’s bemused amusement. A frequent expression of John’s. He wondered if Billy would become lonely with no one to talk to him. John wasn’t smart enough to entertain, he knew that. Poor Billy.
John didn’t know what time it was. He didn’t know much of anything. He didn’t remember much after it happened. There were voices, hands pulling him away, but all he saw was blue, crystalline blue this time. They always changed. Never seemed to remain the same colour. He loved that about them. Loved their intelligence.
They were empty now. Emptier than the words being spoken to him, pulling him away from blue…blue and red.
After that, it was all a blur. Flashing lights and orange blankets and John just wanted to go home. Except home wasn’t four walls, two chairs, one unit. It was blue eyes, constantly changing, and it was a grin that no one else ever got to see. Home was cracked open on the pavement with red leaking and cooling around it as John watched his own life leave him as assuredly as though another bullet had eaten him.
Home. No, this wasn’t home any longer. Not without him.
He assumed someone told Mrs Hudson. He might have remembered her face. Was it him? Did he do it? Did he tell her he was homeless now? He couldn’t recall. He couldn’t recall anything.
The flat was clean. Everything put back in its place.
Well. Almost everything.
John stared at the sleek black chair. He hated it now. Or, he thought he might have, if he could have. He couldn’t though. He didn’t have the strength.
Tired. He was tired. That was something. Did tired count as an emotion? It was all he felt currently. Just…tired.
He would go to bed. He would go to sleep. Maybe, if he was very lucky, he wouldn’t wake up. There wasn’t really a point to anymore. Maybe he would join Billy. Waiting, silent, waiting for him to come back.
John stared at the bed. This wasn’t his room. This wasn’t his room. He wasn’t certain when he got here, but he was here now. So he stared. The room was a mess. The police had been here too. He wouldn’t like the mess, John knew. He always kept his room pristine, unlike the rest of the flat.
Stepping forward, halting legs, John began picking up the room. He straightened the table of elements which had become eschewed on its hook, and he carefully folded the clothes strewn from the wardrobe. He set the pillows back on the bed, but paused at the frame cracked on the grown beneath. He picked it up, a shaky finger following the line of the crack over the glass covering, and he swallowed at the ebullient smile staring up at him. Perhaps one of the last times he’d looked so happy in his brother’s presence.
He thought that he might have remembered Mycroft earlier. Did the black car take John to the flat? Perhaps. He didn’t care. He just set the frame down on the end table near the bed, looking around.
It was quiet.
He should go to bed.
He didn’t bother taking his shoes off. No one was left to care anymore. He didn’t even bother getting under the covers. They still smelled like him. They still smelled alive.
Curling in on himself, eyes clenched shut tight, the first feelings began licking at the numbness inside John like a growing wildfire. He laid curled on the bed not his own, surrounded by his things and his scent, and John Watson cried for everything he’d lost, everything he now no longer had a chance to have.
The flat was no longer quiet, but soon…soon it would be again.
* * *